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The Mazda MX-5 is a hoot to drive

The Mazda MX-5 is the James Brown of cars – it'll make you feel good

It might sound ridiculous but now (as I write, it’s minus one outside) is a perfect time to buy a new drop-top car. Granted, you might be getting up on a morning and are currently scraping ice off your pride and joy but there is a reason for this seemingly ridiculous bit of advice.

Put yourself in the shoes of the car sales guys. It’s tricky enough trying to sell any car at this time of year, but explaining the virtues of open-top motoring when it’s tossing it down with sleet and blown a gale, could be best described as an uphill struggle.

Imagine their delight however, if you ask to buy one and, if it’s a car they have in stock, you will get a cracking deal.

And here’s the next bit of advice. If you want a two-seat roadster, make sure you use the Mazda MX-5 as a benchmark. Try it first before you even think of anything else. It’s utterly brilliant.

The MX-5 has been around for 25 years. It is the best-selling roadster of all time and was designed to mimic the classic British roadsters from the likes of MG, Triumph and Lotus. No wonder Mazda has been able to hone the car into a perfect blend of style, driver enjoyment and fun. It is also totally useable as every day transportation assuming you don’t need a stack of carrying capacity in the boot.

Prices start at a tempting £18,495. You can choose from either 129bhp 1.5 litre or 158bhp 2.0 litre petrol engines, both of which use a 6-speed manual gearbox. There’s no auto option, although that will appear when the new tin top RF MX-5 arrives in showrooms within the next month or so.

Unless you need extra oomph, we’d recommend the 1.5 litre version. Most roadsters tend to be used for cruising along with the roof down rather than hurtling along motorways. The 2.0 litre version is the quickest of the pairing with 0-60 taking 7.3 seconds, (the 1.5 litre model takes 8.3) but for the vast majority of folk, the 1.5 will be perfect. The 2.0 litre model also has uprated suspension which makes the ride a tad firm. In terms of economy, the 1.5 manages 47mpg while the 2.0 litre drops that figure to 41mpg.

All models come with air con, electric windows, twin exhausts, natty alloys, LED headlights, a decent audio system and plenty of safety kit. What you don’t get is a load of electronic wizardry which affects the way the car handles. Variable dampers? Forget it. In many respects this makes the MX-5 even better; just you, the car and the open road. No fiddling required.

Build quality is terrific, as is reliability. Any problems were ironed out several years ago. The canvas roof is nicely lined and, you’ll be pleased to hear, it’s totally weatherproof.

The MX-5 is a hoot to drive. It’s surprisingly quiet and has a ride which is uncannily smooth. It’ll hang onto its value too.

So, if you fancy a grin-a-minute car, try a Mazda MX-5. It‘s the bench mark for fun and could actually be the first car where, on a sunny but chilly February morning, you decide to go out for a drive. It should be available on the NHS. It makes you feel good.

For more info, visit mazda.co.uk

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